February 17, 2010

Lewis lithographs in Littleton center

Early lithographs of Native American leaders on view at Indian Hill Music in Littleton

By Margaret SmithIn the 1820s, when much of the United States was still wilderness, native peoples carried with them a history already very old by the time European settlers arrived.

Artist Joseph O. Lewis didn’t set out to help preserve that history, but that is part of his mysterious legacy.

Indian Hill Music in Littleton is hosting an exhibit of Lewis lithographs, on loan from a collection at Fruitlands Museum in Harvard.

The exhibit,” Joseph O. Lewis: Lithographs of American Indians, 1825 to 1827,” consists of eight lithographs from the 44 in Fruitlands’ collection, chosen for artistic merit as well as the insight they provide to native dress and culture.

They are believed to be the first published lithograph portraits of indigenous American peoples.
And:Volmar said it was also a time before stereotypes of native peoples had fully formed. Iconic images of men in majestic, feathered regalia did not appear in popular culture until the late 19th century, and are only indicative only of certain peoples, such as some peoples of the Midwestern plains.

Exhibit organizers hope the exhibit will help break down these stereotypes and foster understanding of the diversity of native culture.
Comment:  Nothing stereotypical about the figure below. Even his name isn't stereotypical. No Black Wolf or White Eagle here.

I've written before about how the Plains Indian stereotypes didn't become commonplace until the mid-19th century. This posting confirms that point. For more on the subject, see A Brief History of Native Stereotyping.

Below:  Waa-Na-Taa, or, The Foremost in Battle, chief of the Sioux tribe, by Joseph O. Lewis.

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